How To Grow Leeks

Written by: Lars Nyman

Growing Leek

Growing Leek

Leek is a vegetable from the onion family with a mild, sweet flavor and long, slender stalks. It is typically found in the grocery store in bundles with the dark green tops and the white root end still intact, and can be eaten raw or cooked. The leaves can also be used in stocks and soups, and the leaves are often used to flavor omelets, stews, and salads. Leeks are high in Vitamins K, A and C and are a vital component of many traditional dishes.

How To Grow Leeks

Choose the Right Variety

Select a leek variety suited to your growing conditions and culinary preferences. Popular options include the American Flag, Blue Solaise, and Musselburgh.

Prepare the Soil

Ensure your soil is well-draining and rich in organic matter. Leeks thrive in fertile soil with a pH level between 6.0 and 7.0. Consider amending the soil with compost or well-rotted manure before planting.

Sow the Seeds

Sow leek seeds indoors 10-12 weeks before the last frost date or directly into the garden when the soil is workable. Plant the seeds about half an inch deep and keep them well-watered until germination, which usually takes 10-14 days.

Transplanting Seedlings

When leek seedlings are around 8 inches tall and have pencil-thin stems, they are ready for transplanting. Space them 4-6 inches apart in rows that are 12-18 inches apart. Gently water the transplants after planting to help settle the soil.

Proper Watering

Leeks require consistent moisture throughout their growth. Water deeply, providing around 1 inch of water per week. Avoid overwatering to prevent rotting, but also make sure the soil doesn't dry out completely.

Feeding and Mulching

Feed leeks every 4-6 weeks with a balanced fertilizer to promote healthy growth. Apply a layer of organic mulch around the plants to retain moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature.

Protecting from Pests

Protect your leeks from common pests like onion flies and leek moths by using row covers. Regularly inspect the plants and remove any pests you find by hand. Applying organic pest control methods can also be effective.

Harvesting Leeks

Leeks can be harvested when they have reached the desired size. Start harvesting when they are at least 1 inch in diameter. Gently loosen the soil around the leek and pull it out of the ground. Trim the roots and dark green tops before using.

Recommended Tools and Supplies:

  • Garden trowel
  • Compost or well-rotted manure
  • Leek seeds
  • Potting soil or seed starting mix
  • Watering can or garden hose
  • Organic fertilizer
  • Organic mulch
  • Row covers

When the weather starts to get nicer, one of the best parts of being a gardener is planning out our new crop of vegetables. Leeks, in particular, are incredibly versatile and packed with flavor. Plus they are really fun to grow! But how to grow leeks? Keep reading for some tips and tricks on how to cultivate your own delicious bounty of leeks.

Choose The Right Varieties

When choosing leek varieties, it’s important to consider what kind of climate you live in. For colder climates, long-season varieties are better. For warm climates,go for short-season varieties. Some of the popular types of leeks include king richard, musselburgh, and tadorna blue.

Know When To Plant

in most cases, leeks should be sown 6 weeks prior to transplanting. generally, this means march or april is the ideal time to sow them. however, it's a good idea to check with your local cooperative extension office could tell you the best time to start planting in your particular area.

Prepare The Soil

leek plants thrive in well-drained soil with plenty of organic matter. before you start planting, you should spend some time improving your soil with manure or other organic material. this will give the plants the nutrients they need to grow and thrive.

Planting And Growing Tips

when you’re ready to plant, create furrows that are 6-8” deep and space the plants apart by 4 - 8”. it is best to able to sow the seeds/ seedlings in warm , sunny spot. once the seedlings have grown, you can start “hilling up” the soil around the stems so that they can be easier to harvest. humidity and moisture are important for leeks, so make sure soil is well moistened throughout the growing season.

Harvesting And Storing Leeks

it takes anywhere from 80 to 120 days to reach maturity, depending on the variety. to harvest, simply loosen the soil around the stem and pull the leek up. if they’ve grown too big for your liking, you can cut the leaves off instead of pulling them out. once you’ve harvested your leeks, you can store them in a cool, dark place. you can also use a root cellar or foil wrapping to extend their shelf life.

with a little bit of planning and preparation, you can have your own delicious leeks in no time!


1. How do you plant leeks?

To plant leeks, start by preparing a well-draining garden bed enriched with compost and organic matter. Make shallow trenches about 6 inches apart and 1 inch deep. Sow the leek seeds thinly along the trenches and cover them with a thin layer of soil. Water gently and keep the soil consistently moist until the seeds germinate. As the leeks grow, gradually fill the trenches with soil to blanch the stems.

2. When is the best time to grow leeks?

The best time to grow leeks depends on the climate. Leeks are typically grown as a cool-season crop, so they prefer temperatures between 55-75°F (13-24°C). Start sowing seeds indoors in early spring or directly sow them in the garden once the soil temperature reaches around 50°F (10°C). Leeks require a long growing season of about 100-120 days, so plan accordingly.

3. How much sunlight do leeks need?

Leeks thrive in full sun but can tolerate partial shade, especially in hotter regions. Aim to provide them with at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily. However, if you live in an area with intense heat, partial shade during the hottest part of the day can help prevent stress and bolting.

4. How often should I water leeks?

Leeks need consistent moisture to grow well. Water them deeply at least once a week, providing around 1-2 inches of water. However, ensure the soil doesn't become waterlogged, as it can lead to rot. Mulching around the plants can help retain moisture and reduce weeds.

5. How do I harvest leeks?

Leeks are usually ready for harvest when they reach a desired size, which is typically around 1-2 inches in diameter. Gently loosen the soil around the leek plant and carefully pull it out while holding the leaves. Avoid cutting the leaves as they provide protection during storage. Trim off the roots and dark green leaves, leaving only the white and light green portions.

6. Can I store harvested leeks?

Absolutely! Leeks can be stored for several weeks if handled properly. Remove any damaged or wilted outer leaves and store them in a cool and humid place, such as the refrigerator crisper drawer. Alternatively, you can blanch and freeze leeks for long-term storage.

7. Are leeks prone to any pests or diseases?

While leeks are generally resilient, they can be susceptible to certain pests and diseases. Common pests include leek moth, onion fly, and onion thrips. To prevent infestations, use row covers, keep the garden clean, and rotate crops. Leeks can also be affected by diseases like rust, leaf spot, and white rot. Practice good sanitation, avoid overwatering, and provide adequate spacing between plants to reduce the risk of diseases.

8. Can leeks be grown in containers?

Absolutely! Leeks can be grown in containers as long as the containers are at least 12 inches deep and wide. Ensure the containers have proper drainage holes and fill them with well-draining potting mix. Regular watering is crucial since containers can dry out quickly. Select dwarf or compact varieties specifically bred for container growing for better results.

9. Can I regrow leeks from kitchen scraps?

Regrowing leeks from kitchen scraps is possible, although it's not as reliable as starting from seeds or transplants. To regrow leeks, save the bottom inch of the leek with the roots intact. Place it in a container with shallow water, ensuring the roots are submerged while the top remains above water. Change the water daily and wait for new roots and leaves to sprout. Once they have established, you can transplant them into the garden or container.

10. Can leeks be companion planted with other vegetables?

Absolutely! Leeks are excellent companion plants. They have a natural repellent effect on pests such as carrot flies, so planting leeks alongside carrots can help protect them. Leeks are also compatible with other Alliums like onions, garlic, and shallots. Avoid planting them near beans, peas, or cabbage family crops, as they may hinder each other's growth.

Leek is an easy-to-grow vegetable that has a mild onion-like flavor and is great for adding to soup and salads. It is a cool season crop that grows best in soils that are not heavily silt or clay enriched. Leeks have high nutrient content and are known for their anti-inflammatory and cardiovascular benefits. They are also low in calories, making it a perfect choice for cooking. With its versatility and health benefits, leek is a great addition to any garden.

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